Position on German Participation in the War on Terrorism
German Green Party (Bundnis 90/Die Grünen) Resolution – November 24, 2001
Position on German Participation in the War on Terrorism
“Fight International Terrorism, Practice Critical Solidarity, Continue the Red-Green Coalition”
Resolution passed at the 17th Regular National Conference of Delegates, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN
24 November 2001 in Rostock
On 16 November 2001, the German Bundestag passed a resolution (with 336 votes) in favour of deploying German armed forces in the UN-mandated fight against international terrorism; this was simultaneously a vote of confidence in the Federal Chancellor. Several BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN MPs who were opposed to the mandate voted in favour to ensure that the Red-Green coalition did not collapse as a result of this vote. The four Green ‘No’ votes expressed the dissent that was shared by more than four MPs. The majority of our Bundestag Parliamentary Party voted in favour of the motion on its merits. This had been the recommendation of the Federal Executive Committee, after the conditions for assent, as formulated by the Party Council on 12 November 2001, had been met, and a joint Red-Green Bundestag motion had laid down central political objectives for the fight against international terrorism.
Although the Chancellor was acting within the Constitution by combining the vote on the deployment of Bundeswehr units with a vote of confidence, this was not unavoidable, nor did it have the effect of promoting confidence. Not only many members of our party, but also large sections of the population considered it an unreasonable demand. Had there been two separate votes, the vote of confidence would have been passed unanimously by our Parliamentary Party, despite differences of position on the issue itself.
The Bundestag resolution not only puts German soldiers on stand-by for deployment in the fight against international terrorism, it also means a qualification and restriction. The Federal government was not authorised to participate in airborne attacks or deploy ground troops, despite the fact that there had been initiatives, at least on the latter, from the Bundeswehr. There is also an effective ban on any deployment in Iraq, Somalia or any other country apart from Afghanistan. The mandate passed by the Bundestag allows the Federal government to deploy medical personnel to rescue wounded civilians and soldiers, air-transport units to move civilian relief supplies and military equipment, ‘Fuchs/Fox’ armoured vehicles for defensive reconnaissance of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, sea-borne units to protect civilian shipping around the Horn of Africa, and100 special-forces personnel capable of forcibly arresting identified alleged perpetrators to take them to court. The tasks involved are humanitarian, defensive and protective capabilities and law-enforcement tasks. This is in line with the criteria laid down by the Länder Council. Repressive means are only to be used as an integral part of a political concept; they must be in line with the purpose to be served and the principle of proportionality, be in agreement with the Charta and Resolutions of the United Nations, including the right to self-defence, and avoid any “battle between the cultures”.
We welcome the fact that our Bundestag Parliamentary Party has succeeded in enforcing clarifications that make the mandate more precise: for example the reference to the perpetrators, the use of the special forces for military purposes related to law enforcement, the regional restriction of the deployment, and the duty to report. The latter enables the Bundestag to effectively exercise its constitutional right to concern itself with the further shaping of the mandate.
In view of the explosive nature of this military action, a transparent information policy towards the public is absolutely necessary. The way the international media have been treated up to now is extremely unsatisfactory: mission objectives are not named, the information provided to the public is sporadic and fragmentary. The media are being used by both sides as a propaganda tool. The lack of information provided by the US and Britain concerns not only the global media, but also the national governments and parliaments of the NATO member states. This polarising information policy is not suitable for building up a multilateral alliance against terror based on equality.
Since the situation in Afghanistan is now developing positively for the people seven weeks after the beginning of the US and British military attacks on Al Quaida and the Taliban, hope is growing that in Afghanistan and elsewhere attention can now focus more on political solutions. For the first time in years there is a chance to fundamentally improve the dreadful humanitarian situation that has been caused by drought, civil war and the Taliban regime. We have criticised the large number of innocent civilians and non-military facilities that have been hit by bombs and rockets in the war. The result has been not only additional suffering, death and destruction, but also new hatred and a new propensity to violence, all of which creates new political problems. This will make it more difficult to effectively stem terrorist violence. Large sections of the Green Party, including local and regional party associations, believe this is wrong and have voted against it. We have repeatedly and openly criticised the USA because of our worries about an imminent humanitarian disaster and the repercussions in the Islamic world of military action in which bombing is causing more and more civilian deaths and injuries; in particular we have criticised the use of internationally outlawed weapons such as cluster bombs. We are just as open in noting that, now that the Taliban are largely defeated, it is now possible to effectively supply much of the population with humanitarian aid and begin with the reconstruction of the country. The aim of the UN Afghanistan Conference to be held next week in Bonn is to arrive at a sustainable post-Taliban solution that incorporates all ethnic groups, since one-sided domination by the Northern Alliance cannot secure peace. The UN’s choice of conference location recognises the special and positive role that Germany, and in particular Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, is playing in the efforts to achieve a political solution for this ravaged country.
The political objectives for the fight against international terrorism formulated by the Green’s Länder Council in October were reflected in the motion passed by the Bundestag. This motion is characterised by the realisation that the fight against terrorism cannot be won solely, or even largely, by military means. Rather, this objective can only be achieved, “if above all political, economic and humanitarian measures are taken”. The Bundestag calls for greater efforts to solve regional conflicts that have been smouldering for years. It advocates conflict prevention and a consistently non-military approach to handling conflicts. It demands that the aim of a “better balance between the poor and the rich (be) made the central aim of a global peace policy.” And it declares its support for dialogue between the cultures and with religions as a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence in multicultural societies. BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN expect these self-imposed obligations to be now followed up by actions. We call upon our Bundestag Parliamentary Party to ensure that, in particular, the necessary budgetary funds are made available to ensure that, in cooperation with the FAO, a joint fund is launched to support rural areas in the poorest regions of the world, and that, in cooperation with the “World Food Program”, there is a significant increase in the aid provided for the suffering people of Afghanistan and the surrounding countries; in order that truly substantial assistance can be provided for the reconstruction of Afghanistan; in order that at last, after many years, the agreed objective of making 0.7 percent of GDP available for development cooperation can be gradually achieved; and in order that progress in the fight against poverty can be made at the “Financing for Development” Conference in March 2002 or at the Johannesburg Summit in September.
Overall, the Federal Conference of Delegates comes to the following assessment of the Bundestag vote. We expressly respect the fact that our MPs came to different conclusions in this decision which touches on issues of both conscience and political principle. No-one took the easy way out. We accept that the majority of our MPs voted in favour of deploying Bundeswehr units to fight international terrorism. We believe it is right that the criticism of the deployment, which has a place in our party, was expressed in the vote. We welcome the fact that our Bundestag Parliamentary Party together promoted non-military priorities in the fight against international terrorism. The Party Conference would not be able to reverse or annul the Bundestag resolution, even if it wanted to. However, also in view of the dramatically changing situation in Afghanistan, it is possible to end the war. BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN will do what they can to ensure that the Bundeswehr soldiers put on standby will only be deployed within a framework that fulfils the agreed mandate: whether it is for humanitarian assignments such as assistance for the injured; or to transport supplies and carry out marine reconnaissance to protect civilian shipping; or to deploy special forces for forcible law-enforcement measures to arrest suspected terrorists and take them to an international criminal court. BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN do not want the war to spread to other countries, for example to the Middle East. In particular, this also means that German armed forces will not be sent to countries outside of Afghanistan where there is currently no government, such as Somalia, without the German Bundestag being consulted, as agreed in the protocol statement. We call upon our members of parliament to do everything in their power to ensure that these principles are implemented in the policies of the coming months and years.
BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN remain committed and loyal to the pacifist tradition. It is good that our Bundestag Parliamentary Party found a way to combine the decision on the issue with the freedom of criticism and a clear decision in favour of the coalition. We pay tribute to the attitude of those who made this possible, even though their personal opinion was a different one. Our reply to the coalition question is unequivocal: BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN want to continue the Red-Green coalition, because it is good for the people and for this country. To the SPD we say: we are a fair partner and we expect fair partnership.
The Red-Green coalition can point to successes over a wide range of issues, including the climate-protection program, the fundamental turnaround in energy and agricultural policy, nationality law and same-sex partnerships; our latest successes have included the Federal Nature Conservation Act and immigration policy. We Greens can say with self-confidence that many of the things that the Chancellor celebrated as successes at his party conference – including budgetary and fiscal policy – would not have been possible without us. Just as important as the success we have had up to now is what is planned for the future. In the current parliamentary term we intend to pass the law abandoning nuclear energy, achieve the recognition of gender-specific and non-state persecution, draw up ethical limits for decisions on genetic engineering, and launch additional green initiatives for a more vigorous policy against mass unemployment. We have a lot planned. Only with us Greens will it be possible to turn away from nuclear energy and pursue an active climate policy, as well as achieve a further development of the eco-tax, abolish compulsory military service, achieve a fundamental change in transport policy and noise control, provide more money for children and their education, implement the fundamental turnaround in agricultural policy, and reorganise social security with the introduction of a basic minimum level of income.
However, there is also another reason why we do not want to leave this country to the present opposition: out of responsibility for foreign policy. Green foreign policy is based on independent perspectives. It places its hopes in a new peace policy for the 21st century. In view of the dangers posed by privatised violence, this policy focuses on bringing the following issues to centre-stage: the strengthening of United Nations, the universality of human rights, the prevention of violence, the non-military handling of conflicts, and the validity of law in international relations. We know that force cannot, unfortunately, always be ruled out as an a last resort. We recognise the right of self-defence according to Article 51 of the UN Charta. However, the Bundeswehr must not be used in the context of a classic intervention, although it can participate in international operations to keep and restore peace based on a mandate of the United Nations. As a party, BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN retain their critical stance towards the military and maintain a high level of competence on peace. Green foreign policy also seeks to achieve a different, more positive structure of globalisation. The aim is to create new international regulatory structures that add an ecological, social and human-rights safety net to economic globalisation. This will require an international structural policy.
Green foreign policy seeks to strengthen Europe and favours the self-restriction of power and international integration as opposed to uncontrolled power politics, hegemony or nationalism. In transatlantic relations, Green foreign policy seeks close and good relations with the USA. Despite all differences of opinion, we place our hopes in a friendly attitude of critical solidarity.
We Greens pursue the vision of a community of nations that are cosmopolitan democracies. The worldwide feeling of alarm and unease triggered by the September 11th terrorist attacks has illustrated the extent to which the world in which we live has grown together into a truly global society. With our efforts to promote human rights, democracy, tolerance and international justice we are helping to cut the ground from under terrorism. We place our hopes in the prospect of a “global domestic policy”, reining in violence through the international rule of law. Apart from the right to self-defence, the common battle of the world’s states and peoples against terrorism offers an opportunity to place more weight on the advancement of international law, including a corresponding power to impose sanctions. If terrorist aggressors are not only the enemies of one state or alliance, but of the entire international community, then in the long term it will be possible to bring such criminal organisations before a global legal system which is yet to be created. With this perspective in mind, we are committed to continue systematically strengthening international law. This requires that all states accede to the treaty on the International Criminal Court, as Joschka Fischer also demanded of the USA at the UN General Assembly.
Part of our party’s indispensable role in Red-Green foreign policy is to stand up unequivocally for positions which were not even voted on at the SPD Party Conference. Our solidarity is not synonymous with unquestioning or automatic support for US military strategy. In particular, we reject the use of cluster bombs – also in this battle against international terrorism. Proportionality must be guaranteed; the end does not justify the means. We want to make sure that the use of weapons of mass destruction remain unequivocally excluded. There must be no strategy of escalation. International law does not cover vengeance. The anti-terrorism coalition must also be a coalition for humanity. We consider it correct and necessary to seek out and arrest those suspected of being the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, but we want them to answer a case before an international court of criminal law – not to be liquidated. The issue is not a war against a country, culture or religion. We have not changed our minds: the USA deserves our solidarity, since they were attacked. The terrorist threat to the USA and other states, including the Federal Republic of Germany, did not end on September 11th 2001; the threat is still there. We have a responsibility to protect the population, international security, peace and the open society as best we can. We are prepared to do so within the framework of a broad-based international coalition against terrorism. However, responsibility is not possible without independence. This is why we are in favour of critical solidarity. This is why we advocate defending democracy based on the rule of law in such a way that its open principles are not violated.